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How to Format Your Picture Book Text

How to Format Your Picture Book Text

Imagine you are an editor at a publishing house that still accepts unsolicited submissions. Beside you is a teetering tower of manuscripts awaiting your response. Several more piles choke the floor around your desk, and they'll only be larger by tomorrow. After a...

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Writing Tip: Make It Plain

Writing Tip: Make It Plain

No one wants to read anything that looks like the terms of use for the average computer software. Why do we insist on writing like that? For example, here is an excerpt of the Terms of Use for the Waze app.* All words in this entire blog entry that are in boldface are...

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The Value Of Editors

The Value Of Editors

Recently, the New York Times notified their editorial staff that they were going to lay off or buy out half of them. So the editorial staff published an open letter to Executive Editor Dean Baquet and Managing Editor Joe Kahn. In it, they describe some of what we...

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Facts and Emotions

Facts and Emotions

Sometimes we editors have to distance ourselves from a manuscript. Sometimes that happens when the scope of work requires a lighter touch from the editor than would best serve the manuscript. For example, a manuscript might be difficult to follow, sparse in its...

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The Cahoon Chronicles. Memoir and Story

The Cahoon Chronicles. Memoir and Story

Memoir Writing Tips Memoirs are deceptive. It seems like such an easy thing to tell people about your life. Just start at the beginning, right? No, don’t. Haven’t you ever been trapped in That conversation before? The one with the coworker or in-law or uncle? Or...

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Food In Fiction

Food In Fiction

How many of us have favorite books in which there is a food that drives the plot or characterization or just makes the story more interesting? How many of us remember those foods fondly? Maybe those foods make the book even more memorable. Maybe we even associate the...

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What Does A Book Copy Editor Do?

What Does A Book Copy Editor Do?

I can’t count the number of times a new acquaintance has learned what I do for a living and said, “Oh, I’d love to do that! I’d be great at it. I see typos in books all the time!” People who notice typos in books probably would have a knack for copy editing, and...

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How’s Your Book Selling?

How’s Your Book Selling?

It’s no secret that the book industry has long been completely secretive about how bestsellers are actually chosen. Why is that? Because there is no universal system, company, or site that tracks all book sales. THE NEW YORK TIMES The New York Times receives its info...

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The Serenity Prayer for Editors

The Serenity Prayer for Editors

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.[1] This prayer means something different to editors. I’m not talking about what we editors mutter when we see that the manuscript...

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How to Write Great Erotica

How to Write Great Erotica

On a subject close to the heart (Light of My Life, or Fire of My Loins?) I explored the important distinction between erotic romance and erotica. Romance is a vast category and publishers of all shapes and sizes have whetstoned its various elements to fit within...

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What is a premise (and why is it important)?

What is a premise (and why is it important)?

Your story will stand or fall on the strength of its premise. It doesn't matter how well it's written on a line-by-line level. If your premise is weak, the rest of the story will crumble. But what is a premise, and how can you ensure yours is solid? I like to think of...

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Use Short Fiction to Build Your Writer’s Platform

Use Short Fiction to Build Your Writer’s Platform

Recently, I’ve been working with an author who has written a fantastic sci-fi novel but who has no writer’s platform to speak of. The only other things she’s had published are technical manuals, and she has no profile to speak of on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any...

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What Is Character Development?

What Is Character Development?

Character development is the driving force of any good story, and yet, this is one of the most misunderstood elements of fiction writing. We’ve all heard of “flat” or “two-dimensional” characters. But how do we avoid this fatal flaw?

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